Sunday, June 30, 2013

Summer Camp Safety / Homemade Ice Packs

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Snow days all winter means that for us, school just ended. While I excitedly look forward to the end of school and nagging about homework, unfortunately “packing lunches” doesn’t end for me. My son will start camp right after the school year ends and my lunch-making saga will continue on. Camp season brings about a whole new challenge… How to keep foods cold and/or choose foods that will stay safe despite the heat?

Some facts to keep in mind:
  • Bacteria grows most rapidly between the temperatures of 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit. This is known as the "Temperature Danger Zone"
  • Potentially hazardous foods (foods high in protein and/or moisture) should not be left out in the Temperature Danger Zone for more than 4 hours.
  • Lunches must be kept below 40 degrees or eaten within a couple of hours to avoid high levels of bacteria
Tips for keeping lunches safe through the summer:
  • To pack cold foods, use an insulated lunch bag and an ice pack (in a pinch, try making your own homemade ice packs - see directions below)
  •  Add lots of ice cubes to water bottles to add extra cooling (and for more refreshing water) (I tried freezing the water bottle but it doesn’t thaw in time for him to drink it)
  • Freeze yogurt tubes or applesauce tubes
  • Freeze juice boxes
  • Choose foods that limit protein (i.e. fruits, vegetables) and/or moisture (i.e. dry grain products, jerky) to limit bacterial growth
 Good lunch choices for summer-time safety:
  • Nuts and nut butters, such as almond, cashew, sunflower, peanut or soybean butters  
  • Condiments without protein and moisture: jelly, ketchup, mustard, honey or pickles
  • Dry grain products: bread, crackers, pretzels or cereal
  • Dried meats: salami or jerky (choose nitrate free to avoid excess preservatives)
  • Fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables or dried fruits
  • Canned foods (unopened)  
  • Hard cheeses (cheddar, asiago, parmesan, and Swiss)
To keep foods cold, here is a great tip I found on thekitchn.com for homemade ice packs (quick, easy and inexpensive!). I just made some myself this week and they seem perfect!

Home-made ice packs
    1. Saturate a sponge in water  
    2. Seal in a sturdy ziplock bag 
    3. Freeze!

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